Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee

The Friday Five - August 25th, 2017

The Friday Five - August 25th, 2017

For the Week of 8/25/2017

Democrats in statehouses across the country are fighting to move America forward. In case you missed it, here are some statehouse highlights from this week:

1.    The Republicans who want to legalize running over protesters

As the nation mourns the death of Heather Heyer and works to unite against violence and extremism perpetrated by white nationalists, America’s governing majority party has been at best absent and at worst counterproductive. Many were repulsed by President Trump’s inability to wholly condemn white supremacists, but Republicans from the White House to the statehouse have cowed in the face of bigoted violence and some have gone even farther than Trump in blaming and endangering protesters. According to research from The Washington Post, Republican lawmakers in at least six states have proposed bills this year designed to protect drivers who strike protesters. While the bills include language suggesting drivers can only be spared liability in the resulting injuries or deaths of protesters if they prove they hit these people “unintentionally,” the legislation could set a dangerous precedent and insinuate that Republican legislators favor the the rights of a possible vehicular terrorist over the life of a constituent. Thankfully, by making their voices heard at the ballot box in 2017 special elections and 2018 midterms, Americans have the opportunity to make sure these bills are never signed into law. DLCC is working to recruit emboldened citizens and passionate leaders from across the country to run for legislative office. By electing Democrats to statehouses nationwide, we can fight back against these malevolent bills and ensure Americans’ freedom to protest is never endangered.

2.    GOP plot against state senators an affront to Nevada voters

“An effort by Nevada Republicans to recall [two Democratic]* state senators and replace them with GOP candidates is despicable in so many respects, it’s hard to know where to start criticizing it.” While we couldn’t have said it better ourselves, this excerpt from a Las Vegas Sun Editorial is now sadly out of date: Nevada Republicans have now taken action to recall a third Democratic state Senator and replace her with a random Republican. The minority party’s intentions are as insidious as they are transparent. After earning the majority in both the state Assembly and the state Senate in 2016, Democrats, led by Nevada’s first African-American leadership team, DLCC Treasurer and Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford and Speaker of the Assembly Jason Frierson, had one of their most successful sessions ever and delivered on many of their promises to move the state forward. Now, Nevada Republicans are trying to thwart the will of the voters and unseat three women Senators who fairly won the support of their constituents and have used their time in office to support women’s health, protect public education, safeguard civil rights, and bring Nevada to the forefront of renewable energy practices. The DLCC stands with Leader Ford and Nevada Senate Democrats against this blatant attempt by former lawmakers and partisan puppets to waste taxpayer money and discard electoral standards.

*Note: Senator Woodhouse and Senator Cannizzaro are registered as Democrats, but Senator Farley is an Independent who often caucuses with Democrats.

3.   Meet Manka Dhingra, the Eastside Democrat Who Could End Republican Control of the State Senate

This November, all eyes will turn to a crucial special election in Washington State where DLCC Spotlight Race candidate Manka Dhingra fights to restore a Democratic majority in the Washington State Senate. Manka is running to represent her home district LD-45, an Eastside district formerly represented by the late Republican Senator Andy Hill. Senator Hill, who passed away earlier this year, was a moderate homegrown Republican -- the complete opposite of Manka’s Republican challenger, Jinyoung Englund, who was plucked out of Washington, D.C. to run for the seat. Manka, a senior deputy prosecutor with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, has lived in the district for over 20 years and is a proven leader on criminal justice reform, mental health care, immigrant rights, women’s rights, and domestic violence prevention. She is a first-time candidate who stepped up to run after witnessing the fear in her community after Trump won the presidency last November. While Democrats hold a numerical majority in the state’s upper chamber, a coalition gives Republicans governing control of the chamber and they have used it to routinely kill bills - even those with bipartisan support - that would better regulate guns, address climate change, protect LGBT rights, and beyond. Manka recently dominated the August primary, earning over 50% of the vote in a head to head contest against Englund and a third party challenger. The DLCC is thrilled to support manka’s campaign to restore Democrats’ rightful majority in the chamber and deliver the Democratic government Washingtonians voted for.

4.   Courts Have Blocked Three Discriminatory Texas Voting Laws in Eight Days

It’s no secret that Republicans nationwide have worked to hinder voting rights -- from pushing restrictive laws through state legislatures all the way up to Donald Trump’s “voter fraud panel.” Since August 15, federal courts have blocked not one, not two, but three Texas Republican voting laws: first, the 2013 congressional redistricting maps were struck down for illegal racial gerrymandering; second, restrictions on assistance to non-English-speaking voters were deemed a violation of the Voting Rights Act; and third, Texas’ voter ID law was blocked for its “discriminatory purpose.” Unsurprisingly, these restrictions were found to disproportionately hinder Republicans’ intended target -- minority voters. In fact, the voter ID ruling marked the eighth finding of intentional discrimination by the courts against Texas since 2011. While these court victories are a huge step forward for safeguarding democracy, there’s still more work to be done to protect voting rights in Texas and across the country. As we approach 2020 redistricting, Democratic strength in statehouses is more important than ever. The DLCC is dedicated to ousting Republican state legislators who want to make voting more difficult and electing Democrats who will protect one of our most fundamental American rights.

5.   Pediatricians say Florida hurt sick kids to help big GOP donors

Shocking details are coming to light after more than 13,000 Florida children were kicked off a specialized and highly respected public health program designed to help children with serious health issues. After the state’s Republican administration implemented a new screening method, thousands of vulnerable young patients were dropped from Children’s Medical Services, or CMS, and switched to private plans offered by insurance companies who had contributed millions of dollar to the Republican Party of Florida. These private plans were often ill-equipped to handle with the children’s special needs and the children’s health suffered as a result. Doctors, researchers, and judges alike have determined that the process used by the Florida Department of Health to determine which children could keep their original health coverage was “bizarre” and “a perversion of science,” and the GOP’s new screening method was deemed unlawful. A group of Florida pediatricians even went so far as to say Republicans’ decision to unenroll these children from CMS “was a way for political payback at the expense of the sickest of the Medicaid children,” and that state leaders “don’t give a damn about the kids.” Despite the condemnation, the department didn’t re-enroll the children who were removed or even contact their families. DLCC is committed to supporting state Democrats, like Annette Taddeo who is running in the September special election for Florida Senate District 40, who will fight for children’s access to quality health care -- not deny them the care they need to reward campaign donors.

*DLCC's Quote of the Week*

"The voters have shown that people matter and that every voice and every vote are important. Now more than ever we must encourage people to get involved, to be a part of their community and to do their part to make a difference. I’m looking forward to carrying this energy forward to the State House and being a voice for every Jamestown and Newport resident."

Earlier this week, community organizer and all-star lawyer Dawn Euer won the special election to represent Senate District 13 in the Rhode Island Senate. Senator-elect Euer’s victory is just the latest in a series of Democratic special election wins as DLCC lays the groundwork for substantial gains in 2017 and 2018. While this seat was a hold for Democrats, strong Democratic legislatures lead to strong Democratic policies and state progress. Read more about why strong Democratic holds matter in this Medium post!